A Kind and Caring Heart—Melinda Tsai of Gaithersburg, Maryland


Melinda Tsai’s family can think of lots of different words to describe Melinda. Her mom calls her humble, obedient, easygoing, gentle, pretty, and quick. Her dad notes her compassion. But everyone agrees on the words that describe Melinda best: happy and helpful.

Nine-year-old Melinda has a cheery smile and friendly eyes that show her happy spirit. And she certainly shows her talent for helping people. At home in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Melinda helps her mom and dad and her brothers and sisters—16-year-old Jessica, 14-year-old Jonathan, 11-year-old Joshua, and 3-year-old Megan. At school, Melinda helps her teachers and other students.

“She wants to help out,” Jessica says. “And she’s happy,” Jonathan adds.

Sister Tsai says Melinda is a happy helper. Sister Tsai recalls how many years ago, if she was upset, two-year-old Melinda would stay close to her mom and hug her leg to calm her. “I always remember that,” Sister Tsai says.

Now, Melinda helps to calm Megan when she feels upset. Sometimes no one else can help Megan feel better when she cries. “Melinda knows how to take care of her little sister,” Brother Tsai says. “She shows her compassion and caring.”

Melinda enjoys spending time with Megan and with other members of her family. She helps her mom in the kitchen, and she helps Jessica by making egg drop soup for her. Melinda also enjoys cooking wonton soup and “skinny” noodles.

Melinda has fun with her family too. In the summer, the Tsais wake up early to exercise together. They run, ride their bicycles, or play basketball. They also like to watch movies on their movie projector and go camping near their home.

When Melinda isn’t busy helping and having fun with her family, she works on learning new skills and developing her talents. She quickly learned how to play the piano and flute, and she plays both instruments well. Once a week, she also goes to baton class. Her teacher notes how fast she learns, and her skills show as she twirls her baton in the air and spins it expertly through her fingers while she performs tricky steps.

“She has great potential,” Sister Tsai says. “She catches on very quickly.”

Melinda also catches on to the gospel principles she learns at home and at church. Brother and Sister Tsai were both born in Taiwan, and the Tsai family attends a Chinese branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Melinda likes the branch’s celebration of Chinese New Year, which occurs in January or February. She gets to wear special clothes and take part in traditional dances. She remembers an important event at the end of the year too—her baptism! Melinda was baptized on her eighth birthday, December 31.

In Primary, Melinda likes to learn about prophets. “They are the people who write God’s words,” Melinda explains.

While the children in the Chinese branch speak English in Primary, the adults speak Chinese in some of their classes. Melinda can understand some Chinese words, and she knows how to write part of her name in Chinese. (See her example on page 20.)

When Sister Tsai speaks in Chinese, Melinda understands what she says and then answers in English. But whether her parents speak to her in Chinese or in English, Melinda strives to follow their words. She also tries to follow the words from the scriptures and from the prophets.

She knows following all these words will help her to be happy. And that shows one more way to describe Melinda: a good example.

[photos] Photography by Callie Buys

[illustration] Background © Shambhala Publications

[photo] Melinda likes spending time with her family and developing her talents.

[photos]Above: Melinda helps her family by making egg drop soup for lunch. Left: Playing with Megan is always fun for Melinda.